December 30, 2004
blind eye on Guatemala?
Eight years ago this week, after 200,000 unnecessary deaths,
40,000 "disappearances" and 440 decimated villages, peace
formally came to Guatemala. It is beginning to clean itself
up inside as well as out. But it is a slow, slow process.
The judges remain corrupt and the police ill trained and
war headline binds its
There is a sense of a great peace. Both sides of the
political divide have cooperated in ending the killings,
torture and intimidation that were de rigueur.
destiny in Europe
We Europeans have to think hard about our prejudices. We
have been raised on Shakespeare's witches' brew of "nose of
Turk and Tartar's lips", Dante's portrayal of Mohammed in
hell ...We have to put this behind us. Turkey has earned its
passage to Europe.
imagination needed if we are to control the spread of
Imagine for a moment that the U.S. gave up all its nuclear
weapons, a totally farfetched idea but..Here are some likely
Ukraine could push us back to the Cold
The Ukrainians must find a way of resolving this crisis in a
way that Russia can accept.
The West needs to
re-think its whole post Cold War policy towards Russia. The
U.S. should put a stop to its aggressive geo-political
strategy and Europe must use the lure of European membership
for both countries to keep Russian and Ukrainian democracy
and behavior on the straight and narrow.
of spreading democracy
Why should those in the West who want to extend the reach of
democracy be pressed by Washington and London to choose
between intervention and inaction? Why choose between two
types of failure when the successful course of action is
does not justify either Israel or
The truth is that neither side has a cast iron claim to
their own state on the land the British called "Palestine",
and the sooner their leaders tell their people that the
sooner there might be honest discussions about a peace.
chance of ending Europe's last homegrown terrorist
As Blair talked to Sinn Fein, Zapatero needs to talk to
Batasuna and he needs to rescind Aznar's ban on the party
contesting seats in the Basque regional parliament.
Moreover, he should withdraw his opposition to Ibarretxe's
planned referendum on Basque self-determination.
Bush and Kerry want to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty this
The Law of the Sea came into force ten years ago this month.
It gave the world a chance to arrange for mankind a fair
distribution of its common patrimony of the seas. It could
be a model to other endeavors like the slicing up of
oil-rich Antarctica and Artic Ocean, the future frontiers of
the moon, the planets and outer space. Some say it's a Magna
Carta for the 21st century.
evidence against the war on
The main cause of war today is not religion but poverty. To
diminish war we need to look at how the West's own companies
and arms traders contribute to wars. We need to accelerate
economic development - and more UN-type peacekeeping. The
myth of militant
Islam on the rampage the world over must be knocked down.
More than anything else this is reason for wishing for
is forgotten in the U.S. presidential
It might well be true that the U.S. relationship with China
has never been better. But there are important issues and
critical decisions to be made. Kerry didn't raise them and
America's China policy will be the weaker for it.
must not suspend its arms embargo of
If it does it will destabilize the region around the Taiwan
Strait. It should come up with a better idea, but it can't
The status quo is the best for everyone and Europe should
undermine it. But there is a split at the top of the
danger of Sudan repeating
I fear for the worst. Real substantive action is still
grossly inadequate. In ten years' time will we still be
analyzing what went wrong or will we shout now?
Chile must finally prosecute
Could it be that the Pinochet affair is now moving
inexorably towards its denouement?
nukes serve to justify
The supposition is that Israel lives in an even more
dangerous neighborhood than Iran. It is a beleaguered nation
under constant threat of being eliminated by the combined
muscle of its Arab opponents. But this argument simply
doesn't stand up. (In the International Herald
presidential elections and the move to democracy in the
The two big wings of Islam -Turkey in the West and Indonesia
in the East - are reforming and changing at a lightening
and the crude instinct of solving problems by
War is sometimes perhaps necessary. But in too many cases it
degrades the fighter and his cause.
must not define itself against
Discusses what would make Europe a new type of
is work in progress in creating norms of international
Cambodia incarnates the worst horrors of being caught in the
crossfires of war.
the morality of going to
Published as TFF PressInfo 199
is no news in Sweden
If all the world were like Sweden there would be no news to
Saudi Arabia the latest country to benefit from Washington's
blind eye on nuclear
Meanwhile at home, rather than setting a good example by
freezing weapons development, the Administration has been
seeking an increase in research funding for two new kinds of
Is hypocrisy the tribute
that vice pays to virtue? But if so where do we go from
July 29, 2004
notions of pre-emption
Bush-Blair are now chiding Kofi Annan and the UN for moving
into Iraq in a less than full-hearted way. I think we can
see through this game. We so-called "Venuses" will be left
holding the howling, hungry baby whilst its Martian father
makes off through the back door.
July 21, 2004
new wind behind human rights
All manner of influences are driving U.S. law to practice
what political leaders have preached against - the
globalization of U.S. human rights law.
July 16, 2004
Blair's two great mistakes
On the Butler Report and Europe - Parliament for now may
absolve him of these momentous double errors. History
July 6, 2004
the world - Bush's good
If Bush loses in November he will be leaving the world -
Iraq and Israel/Palestine apart - a better place than he
found it. Who to thank? Colin Powell or the left side of
Bush's own brain? The historians will have to tell us, since
the press has conspicuously failed to keep us informed.
June 30, 2004
North Korean bomb and the media
Confrontation, Pyongyang reasoned, was the only way to get
results. And it is indeed producing results. Bush is ready
to negotiate, but quietly. The press has gone quiet in
lockstep. Yet still North Korea has the weapons of mass
destruction that Iraq didn't.
June 24, 2004
right to welcome communist support for the government of
It's long been said that one needs a long spoon to sup with
the devil, a saying that in the twentieth century was used
often in the context of an alliance between democratic
political parties and communists.
June 16, 2004
June 19th the new Indian government has its first talks with
about their nuclear weapons
Since the early
1970s- the time of India's first nuclear explosion- India
and Pakistan have been walking along the unmarked,
mountainous, path that leads to nuclear holocaust.
June 9, 2004
death of Melvn Lasky, editor of
The world of ideas isn't such a bleak place as he sometimes
liked to think.
May 31, 2004
Iraq might defeat the mighty
It goes without saying that victories of the weakest are a
minority outcome. One doesn't have to go back to Thucydides
to be convinced of that- the bombing of Afghanistan,
Belgrade and the first Gulf war are evidence enough. Yet it
happens enough to be worrying.
May 24, 2004
to the new prime minister of
The first interview with Manmohan Singh since he took
office. He outlines his vision for India and reveals how he
thinks about making peace with Pakistan.
May 21, 2004
uselessness of big nuclear
We need Zero Ballistic Missiles, ZBM. The whole corrupting
psychology of nuclear arms possession that somehow justifies
nuclear possession as being OK for us but not for them has
to be turned on its head. Not before time there is a debate
re-surfacing on ZBM. This is the right place to begin the
battle against nuclear proliferation.
May 12, 2004
defence of torture ?
Probably torture deeply corrupts the countries who tolerate
it. For America and Britain this time round the use of
torture clearly seems to have irredeemably lost them the
battle for the hearts and minds of the Muslim
May 6, 2004
India overtaking China
In reality India is better placed for future growth. India
has much more "intellectual capital" to offer than China.
Watch the tortoise continue its course as the hare starts to
lose its breath.
April 28, 2004
to Sonia Gandhi
It is rare a journalist arriving for an interview with a
politician doesn't get a handshake, especially so when they
are totally alone. But that is how it was with Sonia Gandhi.
April 23, 2004
does Latin America so lag behind North
Here were two continents, side-by-side, equally endowed by
God and nature. One prospered whether in its U.S. or
Canadian variants. The other, including Mexico, crawled from
one upheaval to another.
April 14, 2004
Brazil move from Third to First
In the favelas of Recife the mood remains hopeful. I
overheard one gas pump attendant debating with a friend.
"With a new job Lula has to learn", he said with conviction.
Many of the older favelas of Recife have been improved and
upgraded by the hard work of the residents themselves.
April 7, 2004
to an out-of-the-way Brazilian
Brazil has long made a kind of progress- in the last century
it was second only to Taiwan as the fastest growing economy
in the world- but it has been appallingly uneven.
April 1, 2004
Brazil has been savoring its moment of glory with the
election just over a year ago of this quite astonishing man.
Fantasies and dreams are all very well, but now Lula and
Brazil have no choice but hard grind.
March 25, 2004
Israel into the European
The lure of membership of the European Union is working with
Turkey, Romania, Croatia, Macedonia and even to a lesser
extent with Serbia. So why not with Israel? Europe could
offer the Jews a security a fence never could.
March 19, 2004
election on Saturday is a confrontation with both China and
For many, and perhaps even most Taiwanese, this is not just
a question of semantics but also of principle and, not
least, of history.
March 12, 2004
Haiti, is US human rights policy
There is an unthought out belief circulating in the human
rights community that under the Bush administration the U.S.
stance on human rights has sharply deteriorated.
March 12, 2004
on elections eve needs to emulate Northern Ireland when
dealing with the Basque
As with its counterpart, the Northern Ireland conflict, the
continuation of Basque nationalist terrorism in Spain is too
fueled by historical sentiment and myth on one side and by
narrow minded authoritarianism on the other for easy
February 27, 2004
back to the UN
As Iraq shows, American opinion, along with that of its main
allies in Iraq, is coming to appreciate the UN. The hope
must be that this time Washington learns from the
February 25, 2004
and Japan have to re-think
Immigration has enabled western industrial societies to put
on hold problems it should have been forced to confront
February 16, 2004
is reaping what it helped sow in
It is the old, sad story, of the powers-that-be in
Washington not seeing the big picture, of trying to take
short cuts for the sake of political expediency and, in the
Cold War days, of having an ultra-reactive reflex to all and
everything Moscow did.
February 6, 2004
need to think through the impact of
If it is time to review the procedures that persuaded
President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair that
Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction then it is surely
time overdue to examine the impact of sanctions.
January 28, 2004
publication of the Hutton report could lead to Blair's
If Margaret Thatcher was, in her own words, a "lady not for
turning", Blair is a politician who says to himself "je ne
regret rien" and, grey faced and exhausted though he looks
according to intimates, believes he has done the right
PressInfo # 194, January 28,
shouldn't imitate the U.S. on the military
Europe doesn't figure much in the Democratic primaries any
more than it does in the White House. Perhaps it is
understandable why France, Germany and Belgium, and to some
extent, Britain, are pushing hard for Europe to have its own
January 16, 2004
up and internationalizing Saddam's trial will help the cause
of human rights
Any delay in putting Saddam Hussein in the dock on war
crimes charges is going to make the work of introducing
democracy more difficult.
January 9, 2004
perils of African oil
Nigeria along with Angola, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao
Tome, Cameroon and, more recently, Chad and Sudan have
become crucial players in the world's energy
January 2, 2004
Thursday Haiti, the dark island, will have celebrated 200
years of independence
Haiti- dangerous yesterday, dangerous today- will always
hold the world's attention.
January 2, 2004
makes the Nigerians the happiest of all
"What makes for human happiness?" The answer seems to
present itself in Nigeria.